Category Archives: Family

#Schummer14: Day 27-28 recap ~ the end of Summer of Schnyder 

#schummer14 driving home midwestOur last two days of the Summer of Schnyder (#schummer14) road trip were spent driving through familiar territory – from Cincinnati, Ohio, we went across Indiana, Illinois (which we passed through at the beginning of the trip, although farther north) and then into my home state of Missouri and finally Kansas.

We arrived in my hometown of Columbia, Mo., on Sunday afternoon in time to have dinner with my step-dad, my nephew and his wife and my sister-in-law at G&D, a small, family-owned steakhouse that opened a year before I was born. I remember having meals here every Friday night with my parents and aunt & uncle in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Since I wasn’t sure exactly when we would get to Columbia, I didn’t make plans with anyone ahead of time, I just texted a few people on my way into town. I was able to see a couple of friends briefly but it didn’t look like my schedule was going to work out with my dad, who lives about an hour northwest of Columbia. It turned out he had a doctor’s appointment in Columbia on Monday morning so he wouldn’t be home for us to stop by and see. Since he doesn’t have a cell phone, it would be hard to coordinate in the morning not knowing exactly how long his appointment would go. I talked to him on the phone and we just decided that I would get back in the fall and see him then.

When I woke up Monday morning, it was bothering me that I wasn’t going to get to see my dad. So I told Lee I wanted to just drive by the doctor’s office and maybe if it wasn’t a real big place we would see my dad’s car and we could wait for about 30 minutes to see if his appointment went quickly. We were trying to time leaving the hotel with when my dad’s appointment started. While we waited, Lee made a phone call to turn our cable back on. It should have been a quick call but Cox Communications made it a difficult process and transferred Lee to two people. Finally, I told him we needed to go so we would have to chance the call dropping as we took the elevator (it didn’t). We headed to the address of the doctor’s office and as soon as I turned the corner I see that it’s right next to one of the huge hospitals and there are huge parking garages and multiple buildings. “Well, there’s no way we will find his car here,” I said, as I turned by the building to turn around and head back out. As we drove by the building Lee spotted my dad standing outside waiting for his car to be brought to him! What are the chances?!? Lee jumped out of the car to go tell my dad we were there and to coordinate where we could meet up for breakfast. Getting to have breakfast with him made my day!

On the way out of town we drove by Memorial Stadium, home of the Missouri Tigers. I couldn’t believe how much the renovations during the off-season have changed the profile of the stadium. Can’t wait to catch a game there this fall!

After breakfast we drove home to Wichita. As a sign that we weren’t yet sick of each other, we actually took the long way home. We’ve never done this before and I highly recommend getting off the major highways in Kansas, either if you’re a Kansan or a visitor passing through the state. We followed part of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway from Emporia down to I-35 just east of Wichita. It was a beautifully, sunny day and it was nice to not feel like we were in a rush to get where we were going, even after 28 days in the car together.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> A sure sign we were getting back to the real midwest — Sonic drive-thrus!

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> I didn’t catch a photo of the super moon in Columbia but the sky earlier in the evening was beautiful.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Me and my step-dad Charles.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Me and my dad, Jim.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Flint Hills of Kansas.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Reflection of our vehicle.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Lee driving us the long way home through the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.


#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Also posted in College, Friends, Lee, travel

A whopper of a proposal: how Lee asked me to marry him


I knew a proposal was coming, I just didn’t know exactly when or how.

Lee and I had started dating in 1995, moved in together in 1996 and had shopped for rings in the last few months of 1997. In January 1998, the opportunity to buy a house {the same one we live in today} popped up suddenly and we made the decision to go for it even though we weren’t yet married.

Hmmm, maybe we will open the door to our new house for the first time and I’ll see rose petals spread all over the floor surrounding the ring.

Or maybe he’ll drop to one knee during one of the Wichita State University home basketball games we attend as season-ticket holders.

I don’t recall being stressed about it or impatient … just curious. My mind was plenty busy with buying my first house and my job as a writer/editor at Wichita State University.

In February 1998 on our closing day, we spent the morning doing the necessary paperwork at a couple of different offices and then went directly over to the house to prepare for the move that weekend. After unlocking the door and looking around for a few minutes, Lee left to go get some lunch for us.

While he was gone, my friend Morgan stopped by to see the house since she was nearby. She was there looking around when Lee got back. He handed the grease-stained Burger King bag to me and I reached in to steal a french fry … but I felt something that was neither burger nor fry. It was a little black box.

So there in the empty house on Stratford Lane, kneeling on the kitchen’s horrendously ugly 1970s-style linoleum, with Morgan awkwardly standing near the sink unaware of the proposal plan, Lee asked if I would marry him.

Even though I knew it was coming, I teared up a little. I said yes. Morgan congratulated us and left. We ate our burger and fries. Soon after, we started planning the wedding for January 15 of the next year.

It wasn’t the most romantic proposal a girl could dream up but it did catch me off guard … and today we celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. {No, we do not celebrate our anniversaries with meals at BK!}


Also posted in Lee

On the anniversary of my mom’s death

Recently, I started reading Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a collection of questions and answers on love and life from the advice column called Dear Sugar.

The very first question and answer in the book made me cry. Hard. It still gets to me when I think of it.

The actual question is irrelevant here, what is important is Dear Sugar’s answer in which she talks about the last word her mother ever said to her and her pain over not being present when her mother died from cancer.

The last word my mother ever said to me was “love” … The last thing that happened between us would always be the last thing. There would be the way I bent to kiss her and the way she said, “Please, no,” when I got close because she couldn’t any longer bear the physical pain of people touching her. There would be the way that I explained I’d return in the morning and the way she just barely nodded in response. There would be the way I got my coat and said, “I love you,” and the way she was silent until I was almost out the door and she called, “love.” And there would be the way that she was still lying in that bed when I returned the next morning, but dead.

My mother’s last word to me clanks inside me like an iron bell that someone beats at dinnertime: love, love, love, love, love.

~ Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things

I was present when my mom died on Oct. 7, 2006, in a room in the intensive care unit where she’d been for about 18 days. She’d gone to the hospital because of pain (which they never found a cause of) and developed double pneumonia on her second day there. She had advanced emphysema and her body just couldn’t overcome the infection.

So while I don’t have to agonize over not being there when she passed, I have the pain of watching someone take her last breath. I hope I never witness that again.

Still, even rawer is the fact that I don’t remember the last words my mom said to me, or my last words to her.

I asked my stepdad if he remembers the last words she said to him. “Yes,” he said after thinking for about 10 seconds. “She said, ‘Help me.’ ”

Well, dammit, I hated to realize that “help me” very well could have been the last thing she said to me too. Not really want I wanted the last words to be, especially knowing how sad those words made me. She’d had a terrible day because the tube helping her breathe was making her so uncomfortable and so thirsty, she kept calling out for us to help her. It was heartbreaking and was one of the reasons I didn’t spend the night at the hospital that night.

While I was sleeping at my parents’ house, we got a call in the middle of the night that she was asking for my stepdad. By the time he got to the hospital, though, the nurses had sedated her. She never talked to us again.

For years I thought that this bothered me so much because I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. I eventually realized that it had more to do with the fact that she didn’t say goodbye to me.

A note my mom had included in a package to me one year. So glad I kept it!

A note my mom had included in a package to me one year. So glad I kept it!


If you want to read more about my mom, here’s a post I wrote about things I wish I’d talked to her about before she died.

I found a time capsule in my basement

birthday_card_30I opened a time capsule today. It wasn’t an intended one, but it sure took me back in time about 12 years.

The capsule was in the form of a cheap, white plastic bag that was buried inside a cardboard box that once crated a microwave.

I was looking for a camera lens box that had important warranty information on the lens. I opened the large microwave box, sitting atop a wardrobe that my grandparents once owned, thinking maybe it contained a bunch of smaller boxes. Instead, I found a hodge-podge of decorative tins and other reusable containers, and the plastic bag.

For some unknown reason, I’d stashed the cards from my 30th birthday in this plastic bag and then it ended up in this box in our basement.

The most interesting part of this find is the story that it painted of my life then – on Aug. 6, 2001 – and how that moment in time highlights what has happened in the world and my life since. That’s the point of time capsules, right?

Finding and reading the cards made my mind go back to 2001 and all night I was thinking, “If I only knew then what I know now…”

I thought it would be interesting to share the inventory of the bag along with commentary.

Then: A birthday card signed by about six of my immediate coworkers at Raytheon Aircraft, my first job in aviation and my first corporate public relations position.
Now: Well, I quit that job about two weeks after getting that card! I wasn’t happy with what I was doing at work and turning 30 made me realize life is too short to waste it doing something you dread every day. My last day was Sept. 7 … I was celebrating my new freedom the next week by visiting friends and family in Columbia, Mo., when 9/11 happened.

Then: A birthday card from my mom and stepdad, Charles, signed “We love you!”
Now: My mom passed away in 2006. I still get a card most years from Charles, and he usually puts a sticker or six on the envelope and that makes me smile.

Then: A birthday card from my dad and stepmom, Pat.
Now: One of the few actual cards I get in the mail today comes from my dad. I love getting that kind of mail.

Then: A birthday card from my oldest brother, Roy signed “Have a good one.”
Now: Roy died in 2003.

Then: A birthday card signed by my nephews Cory (11) and Zach (15). It cracks me up that they felt the need to sign their last names too :)
Now: Cory graduates from Mizzou next spring. Zach is married, just bought his first house and is graduating in just a couple of months from Columbia College.

Then: A birthday card from my in-laws, Toba and Fred.
Now: I still get a paper card from them and they always make dinner for me on or around my birthday.

Then: A birthday card from my Aunt Linda and Uncle Skip.
Now: My aunt passed away in 2009 and my uncle in 2011 – both from cancer. How is it that I still remember their phone number but I can’t remember my current bank login and password?!?

Then: A birthday card from my long-time, close friend Dave, who I went to grade school with but didn’t really become friends with until the college years.
Now: We went from texting every day to no texting or talking at all. Remember that rule about not loaning money to friends. Yeah, I thought our friendship was strong enough to prove that wrong but it wasn’t. It’s a good rule.

Then: A birthday card from my college friend Jodi that included an invite to come visit her in Springfield, Mo.
Now: Jodi still lives in Springfield, and I went to visit her several times there last year. I’m meeting her and our friend Kim in Kansas City this month.

Then: A birthday card from Morgan, one of my longest Wichita friends.
Now: Morgan still gives the funniest, craziest birthday cards and gifts. And she mails me really funny postcards throughout the year.

Then: A greeting card to my dog from my mom’s cat with a written inscription of “Astro: love ya!” and signed “Sampson.” I think we both know who really signed the card.
Now: Both pets have passed away.


There you have it – the contents of the time capsule 2001: The Year MeLinda Turned 30. Oh, and there was a Mizzou garter in there too. That might be another blog post …

Also posted in Friends, Randomness, Weird shit that happens

Remembering that I forget my birthdays

10th birthday

My 10th birthday celebrated with friends and family at Cosmo Park in Columbia, Mo. I’m in the middle back, striking a pose.

Birthdays make me stop and really think about how I’m spending my time. That’s why I quit my job just a few weeks after turning 30 … and quit another job a few months after turning 40. Both times I didn’t have another job lined up yet.

The milestone birthdays seem to move me beyond thinking and into taking action. They put me in the whole life-is-too-short-to-not-be-doing-something-you-really-enjoy mindset.

Today I’m just turning 42, so there won’t be any monumental announcements. Plus, I couldn’t just up and quit on my current boss {I can’t quit myself!}.

Overall, though, my memories of birthdays are lacking and this bothers me. I recall very few specific birthdays. It’s not that I don’t have great birthdays to remember, I’m just lousy at recalling details of what presents I got, who helped me celebrate, what flavor cake and ice cream I had, etc. I wish I could look at a knickknack in my home and remember that my mom gave me that for my XXth birthday. I can’t.

Does anyone else have this issue? Do I just not pay enough attention to life?

Since my birthday fell outside of the school year, most of my K-12 celebrations were with family and a few friends. Birthday parties during my grade school years were often at Cosmo Park in Columbia, Mo., and usually involved picnic-type meals, sheet cake, presents and a small group of friends along with my family. I don’t remember specific years except for the two that I can find recorded via Polaroid camera: my 10th in 1981 and my 12th. {Mom – photos of only two of my birthdays? I know I was the fourth child but I WAS the only girl and I know technology was zipping along in the 1970s and 1980s.}

I do remember another birthday but not the year: my dad and stepmom stopped by our house early in the day and gave me a rocking chair and a Holly Hobby themed cake. I remembered they told me to keep it forever and share it with my children. I got confused and refused to let my mom serve the Holly Hobby cake at the park – I thought I was supposed to keep it forever! We froze the cake and when I told my stepmom this later, she wasn’t too happy they’d spent good money on a cake that nobody ate. I’m pretty sure that was the year my parents stopped saving money for a college fund.

In junior high and high school, the get-togethers were usually outside at our house or my aunt’s house – a family barbeque with a couple of close friends joining us.

As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to have great coworkers and friends who have always made me feel special around my birthday – whether it was on the actual day or near it. Going out for lunches, getting drinks after work or having dessert – I just don’t recall all of the details of who, where and when.

Lee always plans something fun for my birthdays, from a simple dinner out with the two of us to a marathon day at the movie theater to surprise parties. Unfortunately, I only recall a few specifics.

Here’s a little experiment, I will start with last year and work backward to see how many of the 41 birthdays I can actually remember.

41 – had a layout lunch with Kate at our friend Morgan’s pool … but I can’t remember what Lee and I did that night. He doesn’t remember either, which makes me feel a tiny bit better. Also had drinks that week with a group of friends.

Birthday drinks with friends in 2012.

Birthday drinks with friends in 2012.

40 – was in Boulder, Colo., with Lee. Celebrated with friends in Wichita a few weeks earlier by attending Cattleman’s Ball, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

40th birthday

Celebrating my 40th birthday with friends by attending the American Cancer Society’s Cattleman’s Ball in Wichita in 2011.

39 – went out with friends Holly and Jason to a bar, where a really drunk lady convinced Holly and I to sing backup to her singing Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n Roll. I held the mic as far from me as I could and it was still bad. Real bad. Ask Lee.

38 – was in Banff, Alberta, Canada on an incredible hiking trip with Lee, who scheduled a massage for me that day. We also had an awesome steak at a restaurant that night.

36 or 37 – either the first or second birthday after my mom passed away, my Aunt Linda called Lee and said she wanted to drive out from Columbia to surprise me for my birthday that year. Lee told me we were going out to meet friends he works with for dinner and drinks. We got to the restaurant and then my aunt, uncle and my stepdad walked in. I started crying. It was the only time my aunt and uncle had come out to visit me since helping me move to Wichita in 1994 so it meant a lot to me. They both have since passed away.

35 – my mom sang happy birthday on a voicemail to me, which I kept on my phone until I accidentally erased it a month later. That fall (2006) my mom passed away. I wish I still had that voicemail.

33 – Lee invited several of my high school friends I still stay in touch with to come out to Wichita. They showed up and he made me think that was the only surprise. The second surprise was a party that night at our house with my out-of-town friends and my Wichita friends. (I only remember the year because there are photos!)

huge pizza

Lee ordered the Superdome 29″ pizza for my surprise birthday party one year.

Early 30s – One year Lee took me to a jewelry store and showed me three pieces he’d picked out for me to choose from for my present. That was a lot of fun and he did a good job selecting.

Early 30s – One year Lee planned a surprise overnight stay at one of those murder mystery bed & breakfasts. He said we were just going to our visit our friends Holly and Jason but when we got there, we all went to Oklahoma. He even had to pack funeral clothing for me and miraculously he picked the black dress from the closet that actually fit me!

30 – Lee had to cancel a surprise visit from my parents that he planned for the weekend before my birthday. I was working for Raytheon Aircraft at the time and Saturday, Aug. 4 was the day the machinists union was voting on a new contract. My boss dispatched me to spend my Saturday at the Salina manufacturing facility in case the machinists voted to strike and they needed a company spokesperson on-site.

Either that same year or another year close to this one, Lee & I drove to Kansas City to goof off for the weekend, and when we walked in to a casino my parents were there. Lee had asked them to come over to surprise me!

Mizzou-themed birthday cake.

Mizzou-themed birthday cake.

21 – went out with family for dinner and a couple of my friends came along, then my friends and I met a larger group of friends out at Déjà Vu. I think that’s the night I took a shot of something purple, threw it up in the ashtray and was good to go! I remember my friend Kim got me this cool artsy T-shirt that said “It’s a dog eat dog world” and it had a dog eating a hot dog on it.

20 – This was right before the start of my junior year at Mizzou and the guy I was dating was being a jerk so at the last minute I had nothing to do on my birthday. I was sulking at home and my girlfriends made me go out. A friend who is one year older than me was turning 21 so I kinda crashed dinner with her and her parents at a restaurant downtown. I made up with the guy the next week and I remember he gave me a turquoise stone necklace.

19 – The summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college, my friends and I were playing a ton of racquetball at the outdoor courts on Mizzou’s campus – like every night for several hours. We met a group of guys at the courts that we started hanging out with. One of them asked me to go out a couple of times and it happened to be around my birthday so he made dinner for me at his apartment. I can’t remember his name but he was from St. Louis. I remember one of his friends was named Dax. And another of his friends wore those colored denim shorts – he had a pair in what seemed like every color.

16 – I remember my brother Roy sent me a check for $100 and I thought that was awesome! I think I bought a Swatch watch.

12 – My group of Benton Elementary School friends went swimming at Oakland Pool then came back to my house for food and games. I mainly remember this because there was a photo taken of me that my family used later in life to embarrass the crap out of me. I’m over it now so I’m posting it here. (fyi: I’m Facebook friends with a couple of folks in the photo!)

12th birthday

That’s me second from the right after having my 12th birthday at the local swimming pool in 1983.

10 – This was the Strawberry Shortcake year, I only remember because of photos that we still have. Looks like it was a party at Cosmo Park. In one photo I’m holding this guitar toy that I remember my brother Roy got me. It didn’t work though so we had to return it. I’m sure that’s the same year I got my Strawberry Shortcake wristwatch, which I still have.

Me and my brother Roy, and my Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake on my 10th birthday in 1981. (also had on a Strawberry Shortcake wristwatch that you can barely see...and I still have it!).

Me and my brother Roy, and my Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake on my 10th birthday in 1981. (also had on a Strawberry Shortcake wristwatch that you can barely see…and I still have it!).

1 – no, I don’t really remember this but there is a photo of a cake with my name on it along with several other family members’ names. The family used to have larger get-togethers at the end of summer and celebrate everyone whose birthday was within a two-month timeframe.

My first birthday cake -- 1972

My first birthday cake — 1972. My brother Roy is holding the cake.


Well, that experiment makes it look like I missed my entire 20s! I was mostly sober but still I remember very little about those birthdays.

So I’m officially taking back my stance on social media. All those times I’ve said, “Damn, I’m so glad Facebook and YouTube and Instagram didn’t exist when I was a kid because I certainly would have embarrassed myself or made myself unemployable!” – nevermind. I’d risk that to be able to look back through my or my mom’s Facebook timeline to see a photo of the Holly Hobby cake {in the freezer}, my family gathered in our yard on Mexico Gravel Road for my 16th birthday bbq or me with a group of friends celebrating one of my college birthdays.

If anyone out there remembers something about one of my birthdays that I don’t, let me know!


Also posted in Friends, Lee, Randomness